That Professional Football Team in D.C.

The debate continues about the name of the professional football team in our nation's capital. Huddle Up!

 

   I grew up a Washington Redskins fan.

In my lifetime that means being a fan of their losing, multiple quarterback, heart-breaking, look-good-on-paper, fail-to-deliver-when-it-counts play. 

(They won a Super Bowl shortly after I was born and in 1992 but I was too young to enjoy them.)

From Mark Rypien to Heath Shuler to Gus Frerotte to Robert Griffin III. 

I've been a fan.

But currently, the focus isn't about their play, it's about their team name.

There's a long line of people out the door, around the corner and up the block who are outraged at the name "Redskins."

Entertainers, politicians and even former players are joining the public outcry. 

The Washington Redskins have become the subject of national debate. 

I understand. 

My message is "Know your why."

If you're on the, "The Washington Redskins should change their team name," bandwagon then all I ask is that you know why you feel that way. 

If your argument is that it's 2014 and it's a degrading, racial slur to Native Americans then I ask why you care?

How are you affected? You're probably not. 

In fact, the majority of research shows more than 80% of Native Americans are unphased, unoffended.

So why should you be?

I have two issues with this debate:

1) Hypocrisy

2) Governmental Control

 

Let's start with the first point, hypocrisy.

The majority of people who perfume their disdain and outrage over the name of a professional football team are the same one's that couldn't care less about the plight of Native Americans in our country. 

You probably learned about Native American heritage, culture, etc. through grade school in classes like social studies and history.

But I bet that was the extent of it. 

You probably drive a jeep cherokee. Does that bother you? No.

You probably chew Red Man tobacco. Does that bother you? No.

You probably buttered your toast this morning with Land O Lakes butter. Does that bother you? No. 

If you're going to put "The Washington Redskins" under the microscope, why aren't you doing the same with other Native American-related things that are part of our every day?

The laundry list of inaproppriate team names in athletics that go unmentioned or undebated is intriguing.

From high school on up. 

In the state of Alabama the reigning Class 4A State football champions are the Oneonta Redskins.

Where are the picketers and government suits voouching for change in Oneonta? Nowhere. 

There's a city in Alabama called Arab.

Their high school team name? The "Arab Arabian Knights."

Not exactly politically correct. 

I grew up in a melting pot of a metropolitan area with more than 50 different countries represented at my high school. 

Diversity was the norm. It promoted acceptance and tolerance and greater ethnic understanding. 

I believe in being tolerant, politically correct and all-accepting. 

I don't believe in hypocrisy. 

The 2nd issue with this debate, governmental control, is what should concern most of you. 

Now that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has cancelled the trademark registration of the Washington Redskins the floodgates have been open. 

Is the team name "disparaging" to Native Americans? Absolutely. 

Disparaging to the majority of Native Americans? Research says no but sometimes change is needed to set an example for our future. 

Team owner Daniel Snyder should change the name voluntarily, because it's the right thing to do, out of a sense of good moral compass...not because the government forces him too. 

I ultimately believe based on the national hoopla, debate and all those chiming in on the topic that the Washington Redskins name will soon cease to exist. 

What do I think they should change the name to, honestly, I don't care. 

Government coercion is a lot more alarming than the interpretation of any single word. 

It's all about perspective.  

I'm empathetic to that fact, regardless of race, that if a word is hurtful, degrading or disparaging to any group of people that it should not be used. Period. 

But let's leave the government out of it. 

The trademark case is indirectly about policing speech.

The trademark registration denial is not the same as banning the use of a word but it does head down that slippery slope. 

The ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Last December Gabe Rottman, a legislative counselor for the ACLU wrote the following: "But, as with all things free speech, who gets to decide what's racist or vulgar? That's right, the government, which is just ill-equipped to make these kind of determinations." 

Ill-equipped. 

Do you really want the U.S. government to have the final say on what words and images that are acceptable? 

The truth is what's offensive is subjective. 

The name "Redskins" doesn't offend me personally.

I'm a white male, why would it?

But if my girlfriend were Native American, or my wife were Native American...

Or if I had children that were part Native American and they were ridiculed by that term than I would take great issue with it.

You would too. 

It's subjective. 

Consider how many offensive words/references/inuendos a person could find in watching an episode of Family Guy, Orange is the New Black, or Game of Thrones.

American author Fran Lebowitz writes:

"I do not like after-shave lotion, adults who roller skate, children who speak French, or anyone who is unduly tan. I do not however, go around enacting legislation and putting up signs."

And we thank you Fran. 

For some people, the word "Redskins" carries zero connotation of oppression, racism or degradation, for others it's a hate term. 

It boils down to subjectivity and personal opinion. 

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, just know your why. 

I personally would like to see the team that I've cheered for since before I can remember retain their team name. 

But if that team name truly offends Native Americans, than I want it to change, but not because of articles like this, talking heads or politicians. 

The "Redskins" name should change, like all things, because it's the right thing to do and as a society we should always strive to do better. 

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